Category Archives: Gadgets

Transferring Photos

You’ve taken a perfect picture of your grandchild or “snapped” a great vacation shot on your smartphone. Now the question is, how do you transfer that photo to your computer so you can store it, forward it on to others or edit it to your liking?

It’s simpler than you might think.

3 common ways to download pictures from a smartphone are:

  1. Using a USB cable (that probably came with your smartphone)
    Connect your smartphone and computer together using the USB cable. If you are using a Windows computer, you’ll see a new item appear in the My Computer menu that represents the smartphone you have connected. If you open it, you will find a file called DCIM, which is the default system used to organize photos on smartphones. Save the pictures contained in the DCIM file to your computer by dragging them to a folder or your desktop. Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how to use the USB cable on Windows.If you are using an Apple computer and an iPhone, connect your two devices together with the USB cable, and open the iPhotos program on the computer. Click on “import photos” and you’re finished.Click on this link to read more instructions specific to transferring photo’s from iPhones.
  2. Email the photos to yourself
    If you only have a couple of pictures to transfer, you can always email the photos to yourself. Using the email app on your smartphone, enter your own email address in the “To” line and select attach files ( you’ll see an option to search and attach your pictures to the email). Send the email with the photo(s) attached from your smartphone and then access that email on your computer to download the photos.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.
  3. Upload the photos to Facebook
    If you use Facebook, you can upload photos to your account straight from your smartphone. From your smartphone’s Facebook app, access the photos section of your own profile. Select the option to “Add photos” and choose the ones you want to include. Once you have uploaded the photos to Facebook, you can view your Facebook profile on your computer, access the recently uploaded photos and download them. Feel free to delete the photos from Facebook afterwards.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.

For more information or troubleshooting help, or to walk through the process with an ETAG volunteer technology coach, check out the website for program locations nearest you.

– Lesley Morris (ETAG Volunteer Technology Coach)

Backup your data!

No backup is bad

Most people who own a computer tend to store a multitude of important information on its hard drive disk. It could be things like precious wedding, vacation, or other treasured family photos, your music, your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, or your personal correspondence, just to name a few.

The problem is that many people accumulate this critical (and in many cases irreplaceable) data without a second thought about making regular backup copies of it. It is a sad but unfortunate reality about computer disks that it is not “if” they will fail, but rather, “when” they will fail! So many things (such as hardware malfunction, computer viruses, fire, flood, theft) can happen as part of daily life, making your computer data so very vulnerable to any one of these or other disasters.

The answer to this dilemma is to make proper (and regular) backup copies of your data. There are a variety of backup methods available to make copies of your data onto other media, such as external hard drives, USB drives (also known as a USB key or stick), CDs/DVDs, or the “cloud”, but many people lack the technical knowledge and/or the discipline to protect their valuable data on a regular basis.

One easy to-use-method of computer backup that I have used is called ClickFree:

This device can be used by the full range of computer users from the complete novice up to the technical savvy expert alike, by doing nothing more than plugging it into a USB port on their computer. As its name implies, this device has the “smarts” built into it to backup your data without any human intervention. “It is easier than making toast” as one of their earlier advertisements boasted! The ClickFree device does cost a few dollars, but when you think of how valuable the data on your computer might be to you, it may seem very reasonably priced for your peace of mind.

Although somewhat dated, this promotional video illustrates just how simple it is to use the ClickFree device:

The backup story does not end here though… Backups must be done regularly and the backup copy should be securely stored at an “offsite location” away from the computer itself. This could mean taking the backup copy to work or entrusting it to a family member or friend far away from your computer. After all, what good is the backup copy of your data if it becomes destroyed or stolen along with your computer!

PS – I do not work for ClickFree and do not have any affiliation with them, but rather, I simply believe that they have built an excellent and useful product for the masses. Enjoy! 🙂

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

Tablet Workshop June 6

Tablet Help

June 6th (9:30am to 12:00pm)

Tablets, Apps, and Mobile Technologies: what to know and how it works

Tablet computers, like the Microsoft Surface, the Apple iPad, Android, and the BlackBerry Playbook, are changing the way we interact with technology, the Internet, and the people in our communities. There are many things to consider when choosing a tablet that’s right for you; how much do they cost? What are the major differences between them? What functionality is important? What “Apps” are available? How do you maintain them so they last? Why should you get a tablet in the first place? ETAG’s workshop is designed for everyone and will explore these questions and provide some tips and tricks to being a savvy tablet user. The workshop is also hands-on, so participants get to try all the tablets and ask our technology tutors any personal technology questions they have.

Location: P.O.I.N.T. Inc.  – 200 Eglinton Avenue West, 1st Floor Toronto, Ontario

Prolong independence!

Taking advantage of assistive technologies can help people living with dementia maintain their independence longer!

Dementia is an illness that involves the loss of brain function relating to memory, language, thinking, judgement, and can lead to severe cognitive impairment. This illness is out of line with the normal ageing process, but has become common throughout North America. The problem with dementia is that the social assumptions surrounding  it are quite negative.

Often, people don’t understand how dementia works, and with this misunderstanding, make decisions that may not fall in line with the ideas of the person with dementia. When a caregiver misunderstands dementia and applies these negative assumptions to their beliefs, it can result in a loss of independence and quality of life for the loved one they are caring for. The combination of social stigma and physiological changes creates an environment that leads the senior to have fewer opportunities to participate in their own lives and the community.

Using assistive technologies, such as computers, tablets, smart phones, GPS, and other seemingly common technology tools, can greatly improve the lifestyle of a person with dementia, helping them age in place more easily and comfortably.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of the United Kingdom (2012), assistive technology can:

  • Promote independence and autonomy, both for the person with dementia and those around them
  • Help manage potential risks in and around the home
  • Reduce early entry into care homes and hospitals
  • Facilitate memory and recall
  • Reduce the stress on carers, improving their quality of life, and that of the person with dementia.

Fortunately, there are many assistive technologies available that can aid in the day-to-day living for everyone, including those with dementia. Often it’s assumed that technology is a controlled machine, like a car, or a fun gadget, like a laptop computer, but technology tools currently available can range from a wander-prevention pressure mats to multi-care detection (i.e. heart monitoring, blood pressure, etc.) devices. There are fascinating arrays of technologies that can improve the quality of living for adults living with dementia and their caregivers.

There are a number of research projects and current technologies in use throughout the United Kingdom, but there is far less being discussed in Ontario. Though there is less discussion, there is interest, and one can find more information through the University of Toronto’s Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab. They aim to develop technologies to help users participate fully in their daily lives!

For more specific information on products, one can find out from AT Dementia, a UK-based organization. If you are interested in assistive technologies, contacting your local Alzheimer’s Society advocacy group, or other senior-related social assistance groups, will provide you leads of where you need to look to find the right tools for you or your family member!


UofT’s Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab –

AT Dementia –

Alzheimer’s Society of Canada –

– Aarthy Rajah (ETAG Lead Volunteer)

Need 4 Speed!

Video games allow people to escape into a world fuelled by the imagination. Whether you’re a young child, teenager, professional, or older adult, exploring a virtual reality is lots of fun! You can be almost anything; from a race car driver to a web slinging super hero, or a soccer star to an ancient ruin treasure hunter, the possibilities are limitless.

With mobile devices, video games are pushing to the next level. Motion gestures and touch screens allow players to have a more realistic gaming experience than ever before.  The BlackBerry Playbook, iPad, and the Google Nexus 7 are all great options for new technology users interested in mobile games. There are lots of free games available on all of these devices, so save your money when you first start out.

ETAG recommends Need 4 Speed and Angry Birds 🙂

Home > Need for Speed!

Seniors loving iPad!

Whether you like finding information online using Google or Bing, connect with your family via Facebook and Skype, read your books using the Kobo app, or play bridge and other games with people all around the world over the Internet, everyone is loving the iPad.

Even seniors who have been using email on their desktop computer for years can’t help but be attracted to the bright screen, easy to use controls, and seemingly infinite number of apps. One piece of advice; although the iPad is easy to control, some people find it even easier when they use a stylus. Check your local dollar store. You can get one for $2 instead of $19.99 🙂

Touch Screen Monitors (not for Windows 7)

Eliminating the mouse from our computer use diet seems like a real possibility, especially when you consider the number of touch screen technologies now available. The idea of touching the screen instead of moving an arrow around on it seems not only more intuitive, but also easier. However, the way our computers are currently set up was not designed for this type of control.

If you are a PC user, you’re likely familiar with Windows 7. It was designed to be controlled by a mouse. As such, icons, menus, buttons, and other points of contact within Windows 7 and small, in anticipation that the user with interact with a mouse pointer, not their finger on the screen. In our experiences working with adults 55+, we find it challenging for users to be precise enough to use Windows 7 on a touch screen monitor. For instance, when closing a program, the user often needs to tap the “X” to exit the program 3-4 times before they manage to press the exact spot. A similar result happens when trying to tap buttons on Facebook and in web email, such as Gmail.

Luckily, Windows 8 has been redesigned specifically for touch screen monitors. The way we use and control our laptop and desktop computers is about to change substantially over the next 2 years.

Can you believe we’ll eventually phase out keyboards too??? It’s almost hard to imagine. For those with the ability to type quickly… not too far down the road, that might be a useless skill. Who would have thought ?